College's 26th annual Appalachian Lecture Series announced

College's 26th annual Appalachian Lecture Series announced

Aug. 26, 2013
Contact: Chloe Kennedy, News and New Media Writer

Ron Rash and Wiley Cash, two New York Times best-selling authors, will visit Maryville College this fall as part of the College’s annual Appalachian Lecture Series. Both events are free and open to the public.

“Both Wiley Cash and Ron Rash anchor their work in a strong sense of place,” said Dr. Susan Schneibel, professor of comparative literature. “Evident in all they write is a deep love and reverence for the mountains and the people who inhabit this region. Indeed, the mountains and the land are as central to their work as plot and character, for there is no way to understand their characters and stories without understanding the relationship of the people to the land.

“As lyrical as their prose style is, both, like all good writers, are not content in portraying the beauty of the region,” Schneibel continued. “They aim at nothing less than evoking the complexity of the human condition, and in so doing their work transcends the labels of Southern Gothic and regional literature.”

Rash, an award-winning poet and novelist from western North Carolina, will open the series on Thurs., Sept. 12 at 7 p.m. in the Clayton Center for the Arts’ Harold and Jean Lambert Recital Hall. A book signing will follow the presentation, and copies of Rash’s books will be available for purchase from Southland Books.

Rash is the author of the 2009 PEN/Faulkner Finalist and New York Times bestselling novel Serena, which is being adapted for film. The film will debut in September and stars Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence.

He has also written three other prize-winning novels, One Foot in Eden, Saints at the River and The World Made Straight; three collections of poetry; and four collections of short stories, among them Burning Bright, which won the 2010 Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award, and Chemistry and Other Stories, which was a finalist for the 2007 PEN/Faulkner Award.

A recipient of the O. Henry Prize, Rash holds the John Parris Chair in Appalachian Studies at Western Carolina University. He earned his undergraduate degree from Gardner-Webb University in Boiling Springs, N.C. and his graduate degree from Clemson University in South Carolina.

“Rash’s Appalachia is one of eerie beauty, stark violence and ruggedness,” Schneibel said. “The underlying tension in his works is a result of a complicated dynamic that juxtaposes both violent and noble characters set against a backdrop of greed and crass ambition. His raw settings are matched only by the resonance and stark beauty of nature. In the process, Rash manages to strike a balance between hope and despair, nobility and deception, redemption and destruction.”

Cash, the author of the award-winning novel A Land More Kind Than Home, will close the series on Tues., Oct. 15 at 7 p.m. in Fayerweather Hall’s Lawson Auditorium. A book signing will follow the presentation, and copies of Cash’s novel will be available for purchase from Southland Books.

Cash holds a bachelor of arts degree in literature from the University of North Carolina-Asheville, a master of arts degree in English from the University of North Carolina-Greensboro and a Ph.D. in English from the University of Louisiana-Lafayette.

He has received grants and fellowships from the Asheville Area Arts Council, the Thomas Wolfe Society, the MacDowell Colony and Yaddo. His stories have appeared in Crab Orchard Review, Roanoke Review and The Carolina Quarterly, and his essays on Southern literature have appeared in American Literary Realism, The South Carolina Review and other publications.

His forthcoming novel, This Dark Road to Mercy, will be released on Jan. 28, 2014.

A North Carolina native, Cash lives with his wife in West Virginia. He teaches in the Low-Residency MFA Program in Fiction and Nonfiction Writing at Southern New Hampshire University.

“Like Ron Rash, Wiley Cash shares a deep love of his native state, North Carolina,” Schneibel said. “Cash began his first novel, A Land More Kind than Home, while working on his Ph.D. at the University of Louisiana, where, according to Cash, he ‘spent five long years sweating, celebrating Mardi Gras, and missing the mountains of North Carolina.’ In a fiction writing workshop with Ernest J. Gaines, Cash realized that ‘by writing about home he could recreate that place no matter where he lived.’”

Originally titled “Right Where We Live,” the vision behind the Appalachian Lecture Series was “to celebrate the culture of the Appalachian region by featuring those researchers and writers who captured the unique history and story of the people and the land,” Schneibel said.

“For over two decades, the series has invited artists, scholars, musicians, writers and historians to the College each fall to give presentations on the heritage, as well as the future of the region.”

For more information on this fall’s series, contact Schneibel at 865.981.8251 or

Maryville College is ideally situated in Maryville, Tenn., between the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and Knoxville, the state's third largest city. Founded in 1819, it is the 12th oldest institution of higher learning in the South and maintains an affiliation with the Presbyterian Church (USA). Known for offering its students a rigorous and highly personal experience that includes an undergraduate research requirement, Maryville College is a nationally ranked institution of higher learning that successfully joins the liberal arts and professional preparation. Total enrollment for the fall 2016 semester is 1,197.